What’s the carbon footprint of a single spam e-mail? How big is the markup on fries in the fast food chain? How many words of Facebook status updates are being written each day? Is Moon drifting away from Earth? If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t know – and you don’t even care. Normally, I wouldn’t think to look for data like this, but that’s where infographics come in, to rub it straight in my face. They are clear, colorful, they are a candy store with factoids, and you can’t take your eyes of them for some reason. They’re the intellectual version of bursting the bubble wrap.
Browsing through infographics is like printing out the entire Wikipedia, tearing it into confetti, and then blowing it all up. That’s why I decided to share the fun and present some of the most interesting ADHD-friendly infographics in the whole web.
It was supposed to be a top 20 list at first, then I decided I should go one extra step… and then another step, to be ahead of those who like to be ahead. I’ve ended up with 22 exhibits, all with professional commentary by yours truly, so prepare for a flash-flood of information – those shining paragons of data visualization will teach you more factoids than years of watching Discovery Channel. Just click the headlines or the images to see these charts in their full size.
Let’s kick off with something to please our inner geeks, shall we? This mammoth infographic traces the world of computers back to 1940. Not only does it bombard you with some cool prototypes, like the TV Typewriter , but it also shows how far we went in last 50 years. For bonus points, you can brag in the comments section about how many of the mentioned computers you owned in the past. A similar chart for the windows operating systems is located here.
Have you seen Michael Moore’s “Supersize Me” flick? Well, instead of sitting through two hours of heavy-handed politicizing, you could simply scroll through this infographic instead. It’s all there! Plus a lot of little known facts, for example: the highest markup items in your local chains are fries and sodas. Compared to them, hamburgers are almost given out for free. You can also learn that there is such a thing as the Hong Kong Rice Burger.
All right, we all know Facebook is big, but this chart puts it into perspective. It seems that every day users create 55 million status updates. My quick napkin math shows that, with an average length of 10 words per update, that’s enough writing to fill 1200 books as large as Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. Only this text is mostly gibberish about hangovers, parties and cute dog photos. On a side note, according to another chart, every year 200,000 Facebook users die, leaving their profiles and digital footprints behind. Most likely at least a couple of dead people stare at you from your friend recommendations or search results. Yep, Facebook is becoming one big haunted house.
Space is just like Facebook – it’s big, it seems devoid of sentient life, and we have a feeling that some unknown monstrosities are lurking in its depths. And, just like with Facebook, a good graphical chart can put many things into correct perspective. Only here, my factoid hungry friend, you will learn that 1.3 million Earths could fit into the Sun, that the moon is drifting away 4cm every year, and that Saturn could float on water (if you found a bath tub large enough).
You know how it goes: you’re in a group of friends, someone says that Inception was just a dumb, convoluted shoot-out with some strange scenes, another person reveals the inner nerd and violently opposes. Discussion ensues. Things are being smashed over people’s heads. Seriously though, chances are at least one of the people you know couldn’t comprehend what Inception was about. Well, you can save those misguided souls with this painstakingly detailed, masterfully crafted, totally useless chart. On a side note, it’s funny how even the most intentionally convoluted story manages to look respectful when put on a diagram.
Obviously, the idea of this poll might be seen as a provocation. You’d also expect a chart like that to show some surprising new facts, or to bury some stereotypes. But there are no real surprises here. The Jews turn out to be the richest, Jehovah’s witnesses – the poorest, and atheists are right in the middle. I wonder why they didn’t include the pastafarians or the Jedi church to spice things up.
This is one hell of a trip down the memory lane, especially for people who used to own some of the mentioned devices. Anyway, this picture sends a clear message. If you complain that gadgets are getting more and more expensive, you’re dead wrong. You have it so much easier than folks in 70’s and 80’s, as (taking inflation into account), the gadgets of old were pricier than they are today. Remember to throw this into your bookmarks, so that you can rub this infographic in face of people foolish enough to disagree on any forum or comments section.
There is a downside to cheap and popular electronics. We’re burning through our stockpiles of rare metals at an alarming rate. Silver will run out in 29 years. Zinc – in 46. Indium (required for LCD production) – in just 13 years. Currently mapped nodes of many minerals will dry up in our lifetime, so either we will learn to drill asteroids or our technology will have to adapt, resulting in higher prices. In any case, I wouldn’t throw your electronic junk away. In three decades Lithium might be so expensive that your old notebook battery will be worth its weight in gold.
Speaking of which, the oil is also running dry. I bet you heard something about the Peak Oil problem, but this great infographic gathers it all in one place. You see, the oil was created in a 650 million year long process, but we managed to burn most of it in just a couple of generations. All the EV hating frat boys who brag about their “man cars” should know, that in 40 years not a drop of gasoline might be left in the entire world. Then, you’ll have to switch to a lightweight solar car, regardless of how much it will hurt your man pride.
Visual language can make complex ideas seem simple, after all there’s a reason why educational books became so picture heavy. This chart wants to drag you into the fantasy world of inflation, interest rates, and public debt – the things everyone claims to understand, but most are dead wrong. Don’t worry, no one will see you clicking, so put your pride aside and patch some holes in your economical knowledge, derived from Sunday newspapers and Internet comments.
People are so used to patent wars between IT companies they hardly pay any attention to them. No wonder, top players bite at each other like rabid dogs – having someone’s teeth lodged in your backside doesn’t mean you can’t bite someone else in turn. Check this complicated graph to see the current state of the litigation game. Keep in mind, that the chart only describes the mobile market. There are many more lawsuits floating around.
Couple of interesting finds there. Apparently, players already wasted 17 billion hours playing on Xbox Live. If all those hours could be put into an old-style slave labor, we would have covered the entire world with pyramids by now! Also, Xbox360 gamers have less private life than PC gamers. PS3 players come dead last in the life-wasting race, but we all know why that is: PS3 has no games!
This is a powerful one, especially in the light of flaunting space exploration efforts. You probably know that SETI is going on hiatus, because of lack of funding. To run the program they need $2.5 million per year. One Citibank exec’s bonus, or one Apache helicopter, could keep them afloat for almost a decade, but humanity chooses to spend money on different things. Something to ponder on.
Computers use power. Power comes from power stations that (often) burn coal. By connecting those two facts in totally convoluted way, the creators of this infographic established, that every Google search has the same environmental impact as driving a car 3 inches forward. They also found out, that all the spam we receive produces as much CO2 as 1.6 million cars. A single spam message is responsible for 0.3g of CO2 emissions. Next time you’re going to send a stupid chain email, think about mother earth first!
More scareware. Apparently, by sitting on your back end for more than 6 hours a day, you increase your risk of death in next 15 years by 40%. It’s nice to know that with every minute you spend on Facebook or Twitter, the grim reaper draws closer.
Infographic married to a silly meme is like a bastard child of a swine and a skunk. Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered what the whole RickRolled thing was, just take a look at this chart. But you will have more fun if you simply ask the question on 4Chan… Only then you wouldn’t learn that the co-writer of the song earned only $16 dollars in royalties from 150 million Youtube views.
The name says it all. Apparently, you can get decapitated in Indonesia for playing around with yourself, and in Middle East you can’t eat kebab after having sex with a lamb. Just the sort of helpful tips you should know before going on vacation.
The Air Force prepared this funny chart to warn workers against answering the posts by “trolls” and “ragers”. Good call, Air Force! You don’t want your officers to become a new laughing stock on /b/, do you? But I do believe the army should go a step ahead and provide employees with a complete “Internet Survival Guide” that would show them how to avoid being rickrolled, how to spot a goatse trap (without the help of Admiral Ackbar). And to NEVER click anything that says “2 girls 1 cup”.
The very point of an infographic is to present data in easy to understand manner. But what happens if you intentionally try to make something look convoluted, overcomplicated and scary? That’s exactly what Republicans did to fight the Democrat healthcare reform plan. They prepared a flowchart from hell, that subverts everything infographics stand for, and therefore earned a spot here as the black-hearted villain, an anti-infographic.
I thought that an anti-infographic would end this article on a high note, but then I discovered this, a satire on infographics in form of an infographic. See what they did there? You can find other examples of such prime irony here and here. It seems that even an infographic that fights the war against other infographics contains a useful thought. Making a bullet list with some science facts takes 5 minutes. Putting them on a properly designed picture takes a couple of hours. The amount of information stays the same, and still the second option is preferred by most. A pie chart and some fat fonts can make everything more credible, and that’s what you should always keep in the back of your mind, while digging through colorful visualizations.
And that’s it. Enough of eye candy for today. Be sure to come back in an hour or so and review all of the pictures again – I once seen an infographic that said we’re 67% more likely to remember the things we repeat at least once. And one that says blog post authors lie in 84.5% of statistics they show.